Issue of July 20, 2014

Courier Anniversary Issue
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Not So Convincing

The much-awaited statement from the highest official in the city in relation to the charges filed against him for violating environmental laws did not produce a satisfactory explanation.

Instead of clearing his name, Rep. Nicasio Aliping’s answers to the issues in relation to the development within his claimed property at Sitio Kabuyao, Sto. Tomas, Tuba Benguet only made matters worse.

We respected the city solon’s decision to keep mum on the issue and his earlier declarations that he will answer questions regarding the project at the proper time and at the proper forum. That is after all, his prerogative.

That’s why it was displeasing to hear him complain that he is being singled out for the contamination of the springs that serve as among the water sources of the Baguio Water District, when he finally broke his silence.

We agree with Aliping’s claim that pollution, or the degradation of the Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in general, is not only the result of the development project within his property. We agree on the need for concerned agencies of the State to also go after reckless farming and other irresponsible practices that threaten the reservation.

This leaves us to challenge the city’s representative to Congress to initiate moves so the others who are responsible in the destruction of the reservation will also be made to face the consequences of their actions.

We challenge him, along with stakeholders on the environment, to assist agencies in determining those who have been clearing the forest reserve to pave the way for vegetable farms and identify the farmers who have been abusing the use of chemicals in their gardens and file charges against them.

We challenge him to pinpoint others who have caused turbidity on the water sources of BWD so they can also be dealt with accordingly. We will support initiatives towards this end all the way.

Unfortunately for him, he was caught red-handed for failing to secure an environmental compliance certificate and for not waiting for the issuance of an excavation permit before he proceeded with the development of his property, which by the way, is within an environmentally critical area.

It is also saddening that while he knew all about the destruction of the Sto. Tomas Reservation, he kept mum about it. Worse, he plans to put up an eco-park that will further destroy the area’s natural landscape.

One cannot fathom why a natural park will have to be destroyed to pave the way for the construction of an artificial adventure site to feature a zip line, mini zoo, an ecological sanctuary, horse-back riding, trail, and facilities for rappelling.

Are not the peak and existing trails leading to the reservation enough to offer adventure? For several years now, Mt. Sto. Tomas has remained one of the favorite sites of genuine nature lovers who trek its trails and ascend its peak. There’s no need for an artificial park to be set up there to court tourtists to visit the area.

Let us leave Mt. Sto. Tomas as is. It should remain a natural adventure site, no more, no less.

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